The Big 4, Social Media Edition: Instagram

Instagram, or the ‘gram, as Gen Z calls it, is the last of the Big 4, Social Media Edition. As a photo-centric platform, not all accountants and accounting firms are on the ‘gram or see the need to be.

The purpose of this blog isn’t to convince you or your firm to have an active Instagram account. Although I believe it can be beneficial, it’s not as imperative as the other Big 4 (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter). What you will get from this blog are best practices you can implement if your firm’s already on the ‘gram or wants to be.

Let’s get into it.

The Purpose of Instagram

Instagram idealizes beauty. Industries such as fashion, visual arts and cosmetics thrive off this. The accounting industry? Not so much. But that’s not to say you can’t and shouldn’t use Instagram to its fullest capabilities.

According to Oberlo, the top reason people use Instagram is to share photos and videos. However, more importantly is the second reason people use Instagram—which is for brand and product research. That’s huge.

An important caveat: because users actively seek out companies on Instagram, if your firm has an account but isn’t active (your last post is from 2019), that can do more harm than good. As with any social platform, if you can’t commit to posting regularly, it’s better to not have an account at all than it is to have an outdated one.

How Your Firm Can Use Instagram

Since Instagram is used on a more personal level and not so much for networking and professional development, I’m going to focus on how your accounting firm can use Instagram. If you want to use your personal Instagram to market your firm and its services, be my guest.

I suggest that accounting firms look at Instagram as a way to increase brand awareness, not as a lead-generating platform. In today’s talent-suffering accounting industry, increasing your brand awareness is a great way to attract potential employees. By consistently posting about and showing off your firm’s culture, you’ll be ahead of and better off than most other firms competing for the same slim talent pool.

Best Practices

As long as you have a visual, whether that be a single image, series of images, video, etc., you can post to Instagram. The visual is the beef. The caption, location and hashtags are the lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle (fellow pickle lovers unite). Here are some best practices to set your firm up for Instagram success:

  1. Use an up-to-date profile picture and contact information
  2. Have a short bio about your firm
  3. Set up a business account (it’s free and gives you more insights into your audience and posts)
  4. Use a mix of general and specific hashtags in your captions
  5. Write catchy captions
  6. Post a variety of content types (single images, carousels, Reels, stories, etc.)
  7. Pin your best posts to the top of your page
  8. Use highlights so you can save stories for viewers to see even after 24 hours
  9. Engage with others

Being active on Instagram can be a great investment when it comes to showing the lighter side of your firm, like its culture, which can have a huge impact given the talent shortage plaguing the profession. If your firm is on the ‘gram, have fun with it—it’s a great place to let your creative side run free.